Azores Expedition 2023

LEG 1: 19.–26. AUGUST, Faial-pico-Faial

LEG 2: 26.august–2.september, faial-pico-Faial 

The Azores are a remote group of islands, rising from the deep seafloor in the Atlantic where three continental plates meet and located at the very end of the North Atlantic Gyre. Well known by adventurous sailors, the Azores are offering astonishing views, great sailing conditions and an incredible underwater life. Numerous whales are passing by the archipelago such as sperm whales, tropical pilot whales, dolphins but also the biggest living mammal on our planet, the blue whale. In the year 2021, the Azores were announced a “hope spot” by the NGO Mission Blue, founded by the renowned marine biologist Dr. Sylvia Earle. However, this amazingly beautiful spot on our planet is highly affected by the plastic pollution problem.

Together with the team of marine biologist Dr. Christopher Pham, we are conducting surveys since 2019 to allow us to predict and monitor the amount of microplastics in this remote area. In addition, we started to focus on smaller sized plastic particles below 0.3mm, as those particles can affect even more organisms. The aim of this expedition is to collect microplastics down to 0.05mm in size south of the islands of Faial and Pico, which is considered to be a marine megafauna (e.g. cetaceans, mobula rays, whale sharks) hotspot. With this expedition, we try for the very first time to gain deep knowledge in this specific area about the amount of small sized microplastics (0.05 mm) and to correlate its possible effect on the megafauna.

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A course week includes: 

  • All course participants will serve as crew and be integrated into the sailing routine as much as possible. This involves navigation, watch duty, setting sails, reefing and anchoring etc.. 

  • Assisting with the sampling by using the Manta Trawl system and the data documentation

  • Daily lectures on plastic pollution and its impact on the environment as well as the structure of the marine ecosystem. 

  • On the island of Faial, we have the opportunity to visit the IMAR Instituto do Mar (Universidade dos Açores) and gain an insight into the projects of the local scientists. 

  • On the island of Faial, we will do a beach clean up to see how much the beaches of the Azores are affected by plastic waste. 

  • Last but not least, we are also on vacation and the "fun factor" will not be neglected. Swimming and land excursions are just as much a part of the program! 

The boat:

Dufour 450 Grand Large


Year                             2016

Length                    13.50m

Breadth                    4.35m

Draught                    2.30m

Berth                                 8

Cabines                            4

Engine                 55.16kW

Fuel                              250l

The costs per course week are as follows:

Costs per course week per participant:  


Non-students CHF  1'850.- 

Students         CHF  1'350.-

Total cost per person when booking two weeks: 


Non-students CHF 3'300.-

Students         CHF 2'430.-


Included in the price are

  • Shared double bunks

  • Food, drinks (all-inclusive)

  • Board cash contributions (fixed) including harbor fees, diesel, marine park fee, cleaning, etc.

  • Carbon footprint removal, CO2 emission removal for the diesel exhaust gases produced 


Not included in the price are 

  • Food and drinks on land are not taken over by the board cash. Participants pay these themselves.


  • You don't need to have a scientific background

  • No sailing skills are necessary


*The expedition will only take place if there are enough participants. The possible realization of the expedition will be communicated at least one month before the start.